As CM KCR promises Rs 10 lakh to all Dalit families in poll-bound Huzurabad, TNM visits Chintamadaka, his native village, to check whether a similar promise he made in 2019 has been fulfilled.

CM KCR and the under construction houses in Chintamadaka
Delve Ground Report Tuesday, August 17, 2021 - 16:50

V Sujata and her family are smiling inside their new home in SC colony in Chintamadaka village in the Siddipet district of Telangana. Like other houses in the area, they have shifted the toilet outside, and converted the one inside the house into a small prayer room. And as seen in most homes in the village, they have a photo of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his nephew T Harish Rao hanging on a wall.

When asked, the sarpanch of Chintamadaka, Byri Hamsakethan Reddy, said the people themselves had got the photos to place in their homes as a gesture of gratitude. Speaking to TNM, Sujata said, “We shifted into this house recently. We have no complaints about this and we’re very happy.” A jubilant Sujata also posed for a photo for TNM with her entire family.

V Sujata with her husband and the Sarpanch outside her new house

Sujata is among around 1,800 families in KCR’s native village, who benefited from schemes announced by K Chandrasekhar Rao on July 22 in 2019, around seven months after he was sworn in as Chief Minister for a second time. During the visit, a massive programme was organised. Everyone from the village attended. While addressing the public meeting, KCR proclaimed his love and respect for Chintamadaka and its people, those in the audience smiled and clapped vigorously. He also announced at the public meeting that every family in Chintamadaka would be given Rs 10 lakh, money that they could use to build small businesses. Other than this, KCR also promised a facelift for everyone's houses, though he did not deliberate on this. A month after his visit, the CM said the people of this village would be happy and proud to say that things have changed and that they are satisfied.

The promise

Addressing the public meeting, CM KCR had defended his decision to give money to just his village when Telangana has a population of 3.51 crore, of which 2.75 crore are living below the poverty line. “Out of the Rs 1.8 lakh crore demarcated for development, if I give Rs 100-200 crore for the benefit of my native village no one will stop me. Even if they object, I will go ahead. Every family in Chintamadaka will be given schemes worth Rs 10 lakh. With the schemes and money offered, you can set up a poultry farm, a dairy farm, or buy tractors or any agriculture equipment. Those who wish to buy vehicles can go ahead with their plans to buy autos, trollies and trucks. For example, if a person has been given benefits worth Rs 9 lakh, and Rs 1 lakh is remaining, then we will buy him two buffaloes or cows. Every family will get benefits worth Rs 10 lakh without even a rupee less,” KCR had announced.

The Chief Minister had also mentioned that the schemes would be extended to those who had left Chintamadaka in search of better livelihood. Along with Chintamadaka, the residents in adjoining Seetharampally and Machapuram villages were also to be given the benefits under the scheme. And according to CM KCR’s calculations that would be around 1,800 to 2,000 families. 

He also announced a deadline for the promises made. He said, “As your child, I fold my palms and urge the village elders to come together and form associations. Form associations across the village, women’s associations, youth associations. Hold meetings in every neighbourhood… How many ever hundreds of houses you need, even if you want to demolish your current house and build a new one… regardless of whether you have a house (already) or not, I am granting 1,500 to 2,000 houses. All of you build new houses. By Kartika Masam (within six months), we should have the housewarming ceremonies. I will come along with my wife and children and we shall celebrate the whole day.”

Ground Report

Two years after CM KCR’s visit, TNM visited Chintamadaka to do a ground check about whether his promises have been fulfilled. En route to Chintamadaka, one can see uniformly constructed independent houses in several places. The quiet village has well-laid roads and beautiful greenery. The lakes in the village were seen brimming with water.

A young man at a tea stall in the centre of the village, who identified himself as Kondalu who hails from the BC community said, “I was given Rs 8 lakh with which I started a dairy farm. The farm is located around 6 kms away. The house that was promised is presently under construction.”

A short drive away, at a poultry farm, 23-year-old Manikanta was seen relaxing in front of a television set. He had just sold all his chickens to a company a day earlier and had a week to finish cleaning before the new set arrived. He said, “After the CM’s announcement, I decided to set up a poultry farm. I got Rs 8 lakhs in cash from the government, I put in another Rs 16 lakhs and started the poultry farm. The house that was promised is under construction.” Manikanta is presently studying for his bachelors in Siddipet and earlier had plans to move to Hyderabad to work. But thanks to the scheme, he has now decided to stay back in the village and run this business. “Had I gone to the city I would have hardly earned around Rs 5,000-8,000 a month, and had no savings. As I stayed back, my expenses are much less and I am able to be with my family,” he added.

Manikanta at his poultry farm

Like Kondalu and Manikanta, many people in the village have been extended the monetary benefit. However, while a majority of them have so far received Rs 8 lakh they were told that the remaining Rs 2 lakh would be given later or that they could choose to use the money to better their homes. 

According to the sarpanch, approximately 90% of the residents have received monetary benefits. He also mentioned that there are 76 applications still pending.

KCR had made two promises to the villagers. Apart from the Rs 10 lakh monetary grant, he also promised to give a complete facelift to their houses. There was however a catch to this, which the more privileged in the village discovered soon.

The promise of a house

During his speech, KCR did not reveal the intricate details, which the Collector, who was made the nodal officer, later informed the residents of the village- the two schemes were interlinked. 

According to the housing scheme, those who required houses would be given one on a 330 square feet plot. However, those who already have houses on plots that are more than 330 square feet had to hand over the excess plot for a rate fixed by the government. The government would then construct a new house for them (demolishing the old structure) on the plot. And only those who opted for a new house or a facelift of their house could avail the Rs 10 lakh scheme.

The houses that are being constructed at one of the many colonies at Chintamadaka

Inside the village, there are separate colonies of newly-constructed houses. Ironically, the colonies are established along caste lines. One finds Mudiraj colony, BC colony, SC colony (further divided into Madiga and Mala), OC Colony, etc. Also, it was observed that the houses belonging to the less privileged were smaller, while those from the OC caste had bigger and better homes. 

However, the local TRS leaders (belonging to the Reddy community) claimed that it wasn’t really a case of caste disparity. “The people were given the option of upgrading the size and features of the home while construction was underway. Whoever could afford, added Rs 2-4 lakh from their own pockets and got themselves a slightly bigger house with additional features,” one of them said. 

They also added that the people from the privileged class managed to upgrade their homes, while many in the SC colony could not afford it. 

During the visit in 2019, CM KCR had also given the example of Erravaram where his farmhouse is located. He had said that there the residents had different stretches of land– from 9000 square feet to 270 square feet and many had given away strips of land so that their fellow residents could benefit as well. He urged the people of Chintamadaka to do the same. However, many in the village aren't too happy with this plan.

B Kista Reddy, the Chief Minister’s classmate from his school days, was vehemently against the scheme. Born and brought up in the village, Kista Reddy retired from his job as a Postmaster. He said, “My house is on 3,000 square feet of land and the adjoining 2.5 acre is also my land. Why should I reduce my land when I don't wish to part with it? The house that the government is building is on 330 square feet, which is smaller than the house that I presently live in. When I approached them for the Rs 10 lakh cash benefit announced by CM KCR, I was informed that I am not eligible as I am more than 60 years old. When my son tried for the monetary benefit, they revealed the link between the financial support scheme and the housing scheme. All four of my neighbours decided not to opt for the scheme.” 

B Kista Reddy outside his house which he refused to part with to be part of the housing scheme

A little distance away from Kista Reddy’s home lives Byri Hamsakethan Reddy, the sarpanch of Chintamadaka. His house is comparatively bigger than the rest of the homes in the area and is located in the bylanes of the village on a spacious plot of land. When asked about why he did not become a part of the housing scheme, he said, “I had recently built my own house and hence did not opt for the scheme.”

The sarpanch said, “Out of 533 applications for the housing scheme, 154 have been completed. The rest are either under construction or yet to be approved.”

“As long as the monetary benefit was extended, the people were very happy. Now that the progress in the housing scheme is slow, it has put me in a difficult spot as everyday people question me about the houses. More than a hundred have been handed over but many are yet to be completed. I have been trying for an appointment with the Chief Minister but haven’t been able to get one,” he added.

As the sarpanch was explaining the present situation, an old lady, bent with age, came limping up to him. Seeing her, the sarpanch explained, “She comes every day requesting for a home under the housing scheme. The family gave their land to the government and her elder son got a house allotted. The son has asked his mother to get her own home as she has her own ration card.” 

The old woman requesting the sarpanch for a house under the housing scheme

Today, several families in the village are living in makeshift houses eagerly waiting for the construction of the houses promised to them by the CM. While the reluctance of the people owning bigger houses to be a part of the scheme stalled things initially, what is further dragging it is the government’s delay in clearing the contractors’ bills.

The makeshift houses setup on a plot in Chintamadaka

The government had withheld Rs 2 lakh, from the total of Rs 10 lakh allotted to every family, under the financial aid scheme to improve the homes but did not remit it to the contractors. Speaking to TNM, Kondal Reddy, a contractor said, “We have temporarily stopped the construction work. Around Rs 4 crore of my money is stuck. The beneficiaries claim that their contribution is with the government and the government authorities are not responding. This is a matter yet to be settled.”

While CM KCR has announced a new Dalit Bandhu scheme, in which he plans to extend Rs 10 lakh to every Dalit family in Huzurabad, people of Chintamadaka hope that at least by the next Kartika Masam (The third since CM Rao made the promise), the promised houses will be handed over to them by the government.